The Nokia C5-03 uses a 3.2-inch 360×640 pixel screen. It’s not an AMOLED model, as seen in the Nokia C7, but it’s sharp, has decent viewing angles and good contrast. As far as budget mobile phone displays go, it’s a winner.
The same can’t be said about the touchscreen. The Nokia C5-03 uses a resistive touchscreen, which senses contact through pressure rather than conduction. This means a stronger prodding action is needed here than on phones equipped with capacitive touchscreens, such as the similarly-priced Sony Ericsson Xperia X8. The result is a less responsive feel, leading to navigation that seems sluggish.
Partner the Nokia C5-03 with a stylus, or even a biro, and the resistive touchscreen performs better, but such a thing isn’t included here. A good resistive screen is more accurate than a finger-operated capacitive model when used with a stylus, but resistive touchscreens aren’t used to their strengths anymore – they’re used simply as a cheaper alternative to a capacitive model. Taste the compromise, readers. Bitter, isn’t it?
In order to combat the effects of the clunky touchscreen, the Nokia C5-03 limits text input to a T9 pad, rather than a full Qwerty, when used in portrait mode. Handwriting recognition is also on offer, but as a gimmicky “mobile innovation” of almost half a decade ago, we can’t imagine many will use it.
Although slower than using a decent portrait Qwerty keyboard, such as that of the 3.2-inch screen HTC Legend, the large T9 buttons make input accurate, if slow. Switching to landscape and using the full virtual Qwerty is preferable though.
Resistive screens were once the staple of the budget touchscreen phone, but with devices like the Samsung Galaxy Europa and HTC Wildfire having brought quality capacitive touch panels to the same price point, the Nokia C5-03 once again looks behind the times. Although responsive and accurate for a screen of its type, it slows down everyday navigation and web browsing significantly.